The best age for teaching a child to swim is a topic of debate among parents and child development specialists. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that formal swimming lessons begin after age four. However, swimming can be introduced to children at a much earlier age. At roughly six months old, infants develop strong head control and the ability to learn and adapt quickly. Many assert that this is a good stage to introduce being in water with very close and contained supervision.
How to Teach a Child to Swim
Parents should not begin teaching a child to swim until the child is developmentally ready and comfortable in and around water. It is important to encourage a gentle, fun, stress-free experience. If the experience is frightening or traumatic, the child may develop a fear of swimming. This fear may then affect proper swimming safety and techniques, which may become dangerous.
Teaching a child to swim should be a gradual process for children. Basic skills such as treading water and learning to stay afloat should be mastered before moving on to harder techniques. It is recommended that children should practice learning how to swim in swimming courses provided by certified instructors. In these courses, both children and parents can learn swimming pool safety.
Swimming Accident Statistics
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), children under age five compose more than 75 percent of drowning accident deaths in the United States. Furthermore, this age group represents 78 percent of swimming accident injuries in children under age 15. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that roughly three children die each day in drowning accidents. These statistics emphasize the importance of pool safety and the need for parents and guardians to take more active steps to prevent pool-related accidents.
Swimming Pool Safety
Even experienced child swimmers face the risk of drowning accidents and other swimming accidents. As a precaution, parents and guardians should enroll in a CPR training course in the event of a drowning accident. Additional steps can also be taken to ensure swimming pool safety for children and adults alike.
Swimming pool safety tips include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Under no circumstances should parents or guardians assume that a child cannot drown. Drowning can occur in a little as one inch of water. Always give children undivided attention at arm’s reach while they are learning how to swim.
- Never fully submerge children under three. Swallowing pool water can cause life-threatening side effects, such as nausea, seizures, and blood poisoning.
- Infants and toddlers should be dressed in waterproof swimming diapers to prevent leakage into the pool. This can pose a serious health risk for all swimmers.
- Surround residential pools with self-latching, self-closing gates. Gates should be at least four feet high and out of children’s reach.
- Keep rescue equipment around the pool at all times. Rescue equipment may include a reaching pole, plastic ring buoy, portable phone, and first-aid kit.